Rich Tucker

Back in the early 1990s, it was still possible to find humor in parody.

“Since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun,” cackled the evil Mr. Burns in an episode of TV show The Simpsons. “I will do the next best thing. Block it out!” Burns is angry because the sun delivers “free light, heat and energy.” He wants his customers in the dark so he can sell them more of the power he generates in his -- get ready to shudder, liberals -- nuclear power plant.

But these days, reality is parody.

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“If geo-engineers have a natural enemy, it is the sun,” writes Graeme Wood in the August issue of The Atlantic. “Their first impulse is to try to block it out.” How Burnsian of them. We can only hope, in a nod to another Burns (poet Robert), that this geo-engineering road remains “less traveled by” humanity.

The reality is simple: Since the dawn of time, humans have drawn their energy from the sun. The fact that so many societies through the millennia worshiped a sun god would seem to indicate that people, no matter how primitive by today’s standards, understood it was the font of life. After all, whether you’re eating strawberries or a side of beef, the calories in your food came, at some point, from the sun.

There are more than 6.7 billion of us alive today, and we all depend on the sun. But it wouldn’t take much to screw things up. “The scariest thing about geo-engineering, as it happens, is also the thing that makes it such a game-changer in the global-warming debate: it’s incredibly cheap,” Wood writes. One man could make unalterable changes to the entire planet’s environment.

“I don’t think we really want to empower the Richard Bransons of the world to try solutions like this,” environmental-law expert Jay Michaelson told The Atlantic. Especially since, as Raymond Pierrehumbert, a geophysicist at the University of Chicago, adds, “Geo-engineering makes the problem of ballistic-missile defense look easy. It has to work the first time, and just right. People quite rightly see it as a scary thing.”

What’s especially scary is that somebody who’s smart enough to amass a multi-billion dollar fortune would be dumb enough to believe that “global warming” is such a problem that he, acting alone, would need to alter our planetary ecosystem to supposedly combat it. And there’s really nothing the rest of us non-billionaires could do about it.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for